HR 3012

One of the crazy things about the US immigration system (there are many crazy things, but this is one of them) is that there is a per-country quota for the number of green cards issued.  It's meant to be fair, to ensure that the US gets immigrants from a wide variety of countries.

But this is what it means in practice: if you are from a high-population country (China, India, Brazil, etc.), there is effectively a quota for you because larger countries naturally have larger numbers of anything, including immigrants.  There is now a 25-year backlog for some countries while there is no wait list for low-population countries like Mongolia or Bolivia. Why the US should prefer immigrants from Mongolia over those from China is something no one can quite explain.

Anyway, there is a bill pending in Congress (HR 3012) that would get rid of the quota system. It won't increase the number of green cards allotted in a year -- just remove the per-country quota.

To send a letter to your Congressperson, click here.


  1. "There is now a 25-year backlog for some countries while there is no wait list for low-population countries like Mongolia or Bolivia. "

    This is one of the lies used to argue for the country cap removal. A person from Mongolia or Bolivia would fall into the ROW (REST OF THE WORLD) category and would be in line behind all the other immigrants arriving from the rest of the world. The cap is meant to avoid a situation where one or two countries dominate the number of visas issued.

  2. Could you elaborate on what you mean by lies ? Are you saying that there are ROW applications pending which have older priority dates than India or China ? The bill sees FIFO as fair. You are suggesting otherwise ... which doesn't seem fair.

  3. How can someone write an article about such an important topic and be so ignorant about it?

    "there is no wait list for low-population countries like Mongolia or Bolivia." FYI, this is only for the EB2 category. Nationals from these countries under EB3 category now have to wait almost 6 years. They fall under ROW.

    You should do your homework before writing an article. This is the reason why the bill is getting support. People are being misled into believing that there is no wait time for anybody except China and India. WRONG!

  4. "waiting for 25 years to get a green card is certainly unfair".

    Any educated human being in his/her right sense will definitely agree with the above statement. Period.

  5. The only thing this bill does is benefit some people in deterrent of other. But the legal immigration problems are still in place, not enough visas!. These people waiting in line for visas are not about to take a job away from Americans, they're already here, doing jobs that there are not enough Americans skilled to fill. They're already here, working, paying taxes, just waiting for their green card.

  6. US employers do not discriminate on national origin. There is no room for the US employment-based immigration system to do so.

  7. Guyz,

    There is a category called ROW. thats just for reporting purpose by USCIS. the way it works is, every year, 16% of total green cards (960K) are given to employement based category. out of this 153K or so (16% of 960K), its divided into various categories like EB1, EB2, EB3 and such. so each category has around 50K, out of that 50K any country can have maximum 7% of it (around 3500 or so).

    now begining of every year, USCIS opens up around 50K for each category, as soon as those are used, applicants of that category needs to wait until next year. at that time, it doesnt matter if you are from china or india or bolivia or any other country. you just have to wait!! for indian and chinese, it becomes much longer as technically their limit is just 3500 (7% of 50K).

  8. I meant to say there isnt a cateogry called ROW

  9. I am on a EB3 category for India. Its been 10 years since I put in my application for Green Card. Based on the current quota I won't get a Green Card for at least another 15 years. Does it sound fair?

    Let's look at it a different way, shall we. Do I have to wait another fifteen years to decide where I want to settle? (Keep in mind I am already here paying taxes, taking 0% of any governmental support) Where to buy home? where to get married? where to raise me kids? It all depends if I have some control over my life. This feels like driving on a long trip without getting to your destination. Just take exit to fill up your car get the snacks and get back on highway. There is no end in sight. Unless you are in this car you have no idea what and how it is.

  10. Make no mistake, almost everybody with a strong opinion on this issue has their own agenda which has absolutely nothing to do with fairness or what is right.

    U.S. law isn't about what is good for aliens. It is supposed to be about what is right for America. Clearly, the argument for allowing immigration AT ALL is to give the country a stream of fresh blood. To that end, it only makes sense that such immigration should give America as many different flavors of as possible. If the U.S.A. gets all that fresh blood from one or two countries, then the entire point is defeated.

    In this light, what is good or fair for the immigrants does not enter into the equation.

    However, the agenda behind this bill is what is good for Corporate America, and nobody else. By removing the per-country quota, this will will ensure that whichever immigrants provide the cheapest source of skilled labor will be the one to get all the visas. This, in turn, will make the EB visa system that much more of a tool for labor arbitrage in the U.S., and will thus tend to drive down wages even further.

    Indians want this bill, but they should fear it because it would open the door for Chinese immigrants to bump the Indians from their current stronghold position in import tech labor. China itself isn't all that interested in exporting labor, but Chinese workers would get more of an avenue to escape to the U.S.

    Again, any bill proposing to become U.S. law must be viewed in the light of what is best for America, and not what is fair for aliens. What is the cultural benefit to America if most of the immigrants come from only one or two countries? And how does that cultural benefit compare to having immigrants from a little bit of everywhere?

    In terms of what is good for America, H.R. 3012 is clearly out to lunch.


  11. Mr. TD,
    Do you know that this bill has nothing to do with new comers? This simply addresses already APPROVED cases with USCIS that can't be adjudicated due to lack of visa numbers for people who're ALREADY here in jobs, Legal and paying taxes, buying houses, cars, food, clothing etc. New comers use H1b visas to land here and by the way there are no per country limits for H1b visas. So if it's good for America to make highly qualified LEGAL and law abiding people to wait for green cards until death, I can understand if it's ok for you as You think such people will still keep coming to US and help economy because you're a taxi driver.

  12. this bill is not about fairness however it is about total domination of the employed visa by 2 countries.
    the myth of the 7% country cap and the crying on forums and immigration blogs is nothing but a lie.
    in 2010 india received a total 33600 employment visa ( 25% of the total) and they have been averaging a similar percentage since 2007. in spite of these large numbers they are still severely backlogged.
    China is getting a little less 20600 EB visa (15%) and are still behind not severely so.

    the rest of the planet (also known as ROW) are enjoying the leftover 50%.we are talking about 180+ other countries.
    as a US citizen i don't think i would enjoy just working with foreign graduates from only 2 countries and certainly limit the potential of bringing any talent from any other country because we are going to cheap labor.

    this bill will certainly raise the total visas to india and china to 90% with 10% left to the rest.(in 3 years the 10% will be certainly gone).

    i am not sure how it is our problem in the US if china and India population decided to immigrate to the US. are we obligated to giving them all work visa because we are fearing they will be backlogged?

    link to the distribution of the visas:

  13. @ Taxi driver,

    If you want to give different flavour, apply through diversity lottry and not through EB GC

  14. @ Anonymouse 1:45 AM

    Please tell us how an immigrant from one country in EB2 category is better than another category and why needs a special treatement. How its benefits the US...?

  15. To people who oppose this bill claiming it will impact diversity - this bill only impacts those who come here on employment-based visas i.e. 2 - 15% of the total legal immigrants. The other 85% will still be subject to per-country diversity caps. If you're going to have an employment-based immigrant system, have a fair one that judges on skills and expertise rather than national origin. Otherwise, don't have an employment-based system at all. Of course, the downside of killing the EB system all together is that the US will lose STEM graduates to Australia, Canada, India, and China. Of ocurse, we (the US) will be fine because we're generating enough STEM graduates of our own. NOT.

  16. On one hand I appreciate the issues for Indian and Chinese workers in the EB queue and the concept of FIFO.

    However, as a Canadian waiting in the EB3 ROW queue, without some moderating factor during a phase-in period eliminating per country chargeability limits -- notably visa recapture +/- additional visas for US college STEM graduates -- having my wait time regress potentially several years would be intolerable. Thus it is not in my interest to support H.R. 3012 as it currently stands. (In fact it scares the hell out of me.)

    What I am hoping for is that H.R. 3012 sparks some national recognition and dialogue about the plight of LEGAL employment visa immigrants and helps move bills like H.R. 3119 toward the forefront.

  17. To get more perspective on how this bill will affect visa bulletin for each category for coming years, read

    This bill will help India and China just initially but in long run wait time is little more. Only population this bill helps is EB3-India

  18. This bill has nothing to do with fairness. Immigration is a privilege, not a birthright, US can institute policies on immigration that it deems beneficial to its interests. While it can be argued that having more highly skilled immigrants is in the best interest of the country, it cannot be logically argued that having more skilled immigrants from India, China, or Mexico will be MORE beneficial to US compared to immigrants from other countries. The selection process to determine the "high" skill of the applicants is same for all applicants regardless of their country of origin. Keeping the per country limits in place will keep diversity in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics fields and will encourage immigrants from smaller countries to become permanent residents as well rather than having individuals from one or few countries dominate the STEM

  19. I agree with the Canadian guy, this bill should incorporate some sort of leveling system in what everybody get some benefit. Obviously you can't wait for a green card for 25 years, but neither 10. The limitation should take place in the h1B quota and not in the green card. In other words, they should put everybody on zero(make all categories current) and start a new system from scratch on where a person that shows responsibility, respect to the country, pay taxes and not violate the rules (maybe 3 years)deserves the permanent residence.


    The thing that most people don't understand is that doesn't matter what country it is, 70-80% highly skilled people ( phd's, masters's, other skilled people with experience ) are stuck with jobs that doesn't utilizes there skills or qualifications, they can not move up/take risk because if they do, they will jeopardize GC applicatoin. They went for those jobs because of the economy/situation etc. Now at this time when economy is coming back, these guys can not switch/move because of the laws that force them to stick to whatever there current job is. If they change they might have to go back to there country which I don't really think anybody wants. Because of this situation, they cannot make decision like buying house, investing money and what not. Most of these decisions like one's outlined above if taken would help US economy.

    People can say all they want, but this bill is for good, its gonna help highly skilled, hard working, tax paying people to get green card and move on to doing what they are good at.

    I really doubt the knowledge of the people who are opposing this bill, just because more no. of people from certain countries are going to get GC's. Its a fair bill and should be approved.

    Please think about it, know the bill before you speak, make educated decision.


  21. ultimately knowledge and hard working people should be benefited

  22. I think all the systems work on first come fist serve basis , even in theaters if you reach late you will not get the ticket and most of the computer systems work same way!

  23. You all must have realized, this is an infinite debate. What I see as fair, may not be something ROWers would like, and vice versa.

    Let the legislative process work its way thru. Its not like the legislators have time to read this forum. They are busy doing more important things, like paving a way for their next election, or playing with words.

    Follow to see what our congress is up to! (clue, it's not much at all).